The annual Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show was recently held in Louisville, Kentucky. Manufacturers gathered here to display the best new gear the industry has to offer. As in years past, the show was buzzing with excitement as attendees scurried booth to booth searching for the latest and greatest products.
Here are the ones we predict will be the movers-and-shakers in the bowhunting world for 2013.
Sitka Gear Early Season Whitetail Pants
These pants are constructed of an exceptionally durable fabric, and protect against the most rugged brush and terrain a bowhunter will face. The addition of a four-way stretch material eases uncomfortable binding when squatting and bending. Boot gaskets keep unwanted debris out and generously large cargo pockets provide ample room for all those gadgets.
This is a pocket-sized device designed to secure hang-on style treestands safely to the tree without the fear of over-tightening (a one-way clutch limits torque to 400 psi). A built-in hex head is easily tightened using a cordless power drill or standard ratchet. The PowerLOK eliminates the possibility of attachment ropes or straps stretching over time, or being compromised by animals or vandals.
The Big Mike is built for those who demand ample room in their favorite groundblind. At a full seven feet tall, the Big Mike allows nearly any archer to shoot while standing. It also affords room for as many as three hunters to hunt from the one blind. The footprint is big at 62 inches x 62 inches with extra large shoot-through windows and oversized fiberglass support poles.
The A.X. Driver is an adjustable one-pin rover-style sight with a 2-inch sight aperture. A unique vertical drive moves the pin silently and smoothly. The adjustable sight is deftly suited for those bowhunters who like the convenience of a one-pin set-up, yet with the large yardage coverage of a multi-pin set-up. The A.X. Driver is convertible from right to left-handed.
Billed as the "ultimate cutting tool," the Kutz-All offers hunters a lightweight, compact, versatile multipurpose knife and cutting utensil. The survival style tool includes three interchangeable blades including pruning, carbide, and fillet knife which store conveniently in the waterproof handle. I love that this tool is made in the USA.
This call replicates the sound of two bucks fighting over a hot doe. The two-piece call is fashioned after a whitetail rack, and is easily operated by simply rotating the two surfaces against each other. And oddly enough, this strange looking contraption actually makes a very realistic sound sure to draw in those curious bruiser bucks.
This trail camera looks like it came right out of a science fiction movie. The eight-megapixel camera operates in two modes: panoramic and single mode. In panorama mode, the camera captures three photos from a 50-degree zone and assembles them into a single, 48:9 extra-wide image; providing 150-degree coverage. In single mode, the camera detects game and then silently robotically rotates the lens to capture individual 16:9 widescreen photos and videos from the area where motion is detected.
Climbing treestands seem to get bigger and chunkier each passing year as manufacturers attempt to outfit them with more and more features; most would argue are unneeded. Summit's Mini Viper Climber is a no-frills climber sure to be a hit with the run-and-gun bowhunting crowd. The 18-pound offering is compact, yet gives enough room for the on-the-move bowhunter.
Muzzy Products has a long standing reputation for being a quality fixed blade broadhead. In late 2012, the company was bought by the makers of Rage broadheads. For 2013, a new design is being offered in the Trocar. The new fixed blade design has .035-inch thick blades that promise rugged performance. The Trocar has a 1 3/16-inch cutting diameter and is available in standard 100-grain, Deep Six 100-grain, 100-grain crossbow and a 125-grain crossbow.
Treestand accidents continue to needlessly injure and kill hunters every season. The Hunter Safety System Elite vest is designed to protect hunters from falls. Weighing less than three pounds, the Elite is constructed of quiet materials and has no dangling leg straps. Six pockets, featuring internal pockets are great for holding all those must-have accessories while up in your favorite tree. Available in RealTree Xtra.
Ultra-popular Rage broadheads introduces their Hypodermic. The mechanical features a solid steel ferrule with integrated tip that's as sharp as we've seen. The deployable blades are constructed of .035" stainless-steel and boast a wide 2-inch cutting diameter. The Hypodermic has a shock collar instead of rubber bands or o-rings to preclude premature blade deployment. Available in a standard 100-grain and Deep Six 100-grain, both come packaged with a practice tip.
The crossbow bug is here to stay. Nockturnal Crossbow Lighted Nocks offer x-bow enthusiasts super-bright lighted nocks for their favorite game getter. The Nockturnal fits just about every crossbow arrow and has three nock configurations: half-moon, capture and flat. Lithium batteries promise 20 hours of performance.
The newly redesigned harness is ridiculously comfortable, lightweight and stylish. Beyond that, it is also very functional. The harness dons effortlessly in a matter of seconds and adjusts easily. Stretch panels are incorporated into the shoulder straps, allowing for ease of movement and eliminating the binding common in other harnesses. The tether/lanyard system is the easiest in the industry to use with its prussic knot and rope combo. Three models are available.
Flimsy tree saws are the bane of bowhunters everywhere. Sadly, few work as advertised. The Wicked Tree Gear Wicked Tough Pole Saw is designed for the toughest of use with its solid cast aluminum business end. The aluminum will not rust, and with its grid design, it will not flex or bend like other inferior saws. The extension pole is a quality build too, extending 6 or 12 feet depending on the model. An arborist quality blade rounds out the best pole saw in the business.
Opti-Logic Corporation is credited with building the first consumer priced laser rangefinder. Their new Micro I is being billed as the world's smallest rangefinder. The housing is diminutive, measuring a minuscule 3.25" x 2.5" x 1.375" and weighing in at a scant 3.5-ounces. While physically small, the Micro I is big on features: three-level brightness, monstrous eye relief (>3cm), and one touch mode selection.
Inconsistent spine in a carbon arrow can rob accuracy with its asymmetrical flexing. The Maxima RED is engineered with stiffer forward and aft ends to force flexure to the midsection of the arrow shaft. Arrows come in packs of 6 and 12. They are hand matched and sorted by spine and weight for consistent groups. Amazingly, two spines are available for bows ranging from 42 to 91 pounds of draw weight.
Tipping the scales at a modest eight pounds, the AmeriStep Light Speed Razor groundblind offers bowhunters a full-size blind at an economical weight. A single hub design contributes to the weight savings and ease of operation. The Razor is suitably large for all but the largest of hunters; 69 inches shooting width x 98 inches front width x 67 inches back width x 60 inches deep. Five big windows offer circumferential shooting capabilities. Available in RealTree Xtra.
Evolved Harvest EZ Plot Crush
Personalized food plots are highly effective, however, they can be a pain to plant in remote areas. Evolved Harvest EZ Plot Crush is formulated as a no-till mix, making seeding a plot as simple as scratching the ground and tossing the seed out. The blend contains clover, rape, and tetraploid rye--all of which deliver high levels of protein. A 10-pound bag plants up to 11,000 square feet.
Designed to quickly, easily, and securely mount any trail camera, the Cranford Manufacturing EZY Midget T Trail Cam Mount has a self-tapping screw and a dynamic ball swivel for 360° rotation and tilt. The mount is all-steel construction with a rugged powder coat finish.
Leave it to Easton to develop crossbow arrows for killing zombies. The Easton XX75 Dead Bolt does just that (and other more desirable animals of course). This aluminum XX75 2219 aerospace shaft has been specially hard-anodized to be impervious to caustic, zombie biohazard by-products. And the smooth surface makes for easy retrieval from targets or decomposing bodies. The zombie slayers are available to undead hunters in 20-inch length with moon nocks.
This is a simple arrow launcher that promises top-shelf performance. The full-containment rest is easy to install and tune. The rest is also surprisingly lightweight, thanks to its carbon composite construction. Piston-actuated launcher arms minimize shooter induced error while optimizing arrow vane clearance. The rest fits left- or right-handed bows.
The LED based design is rechargeable, offers 700 lumens of ultra-bright light, and provides a 110-minute burn time. The system includes both a home and car charger. A trigger switch and rubberized grip make long carries comfortable when finding your way to camp or tracking.
Electronic game calls have become the latest rage in bowhunting. A quality call can bring critters in close for some exciting archery action. The Flextone EZ1 Mimic Torch Electronic Game Call is a handheld design which can be operated easily with one hand. The call features 12 preloaded sounds which include owl hoots, buck growl, fawn bleat, estrus bleat, snort wheeze, buck grunt, and turkey purr.
Advances in treestand technology are few and far between. However, with that being said, we did find a new twist on lock-on style stands. The Advanced Treestand Technologies Smackdown Series offers hunters an easier and safer way to hunt aloft. The Smackdown's platform and seat are solid cast aluminum, providing creak and moan free hunting. Both are detachable, so when not in use, the user can remove these to keep others from using their stand. A totally-trick dual ratcheting mounting system keeps this stand firmly engaged and rock-solid. The fully dipped camouflage finish is great and the standing platform is plenty large (34 inches x 21 inches).
Quality, reliable feeders are difficult to find at a reasonable price. Luckily, the Moultrie Easy-Lock Feeder fits the bill. The 30-gallon tripod feeder comes complete with the feeder motor, hopper, and tripod. It's programmable for up to six feedings a day, has a built-in feed level indicator, and battery level monitor. A built-in varmint guard promises to keep squirrels, coons, and other nasties at bay.
Finding a bow case that fits your bow can be challenging. Plano's adjustable Parallel Limb Bow Case Model 1144 has an interior that can be adjusted to fit almost any bow geometry. A six arrow holder is also provided in the lid for easy arrow storage. A perimeter O-ring system promises dust-proof and moisture-proof operation.